Aug 10, 2022 11:28 PM
Seems like everybody's selling you dreams 'round here
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Saturday lunch finds Alexius in the food line, scanning the cafeteria for an upperclassman who is either extremely kind or a serial killer. The guy never said his name but Alexius knows his face, where is he today...

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He's actually just outside the food line, apparently looking for Alexius. He waves when he spots him.

"Hey! I'm just waiting for - that other girl who was with you, I didn't catch her name - my friends are holding some table space for us, and then we can go up as a group after lunch."

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"Connie will probably show up. I'm realizing I didn't catch your name, I'm Alexius." 

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"James! James Holden. Sorry about that, I met a lot of people last night and I guess I forgot to keep introducing myself properly. If you think she'll come find us, we can go sit down now?"

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"Works for me." He collects nutrition, avoiding a suspicious clump in the peas, and follows James to his table. 

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Said girl is about midway through the second counter over, it turns out- she gets a scoop of hash and a slightly bruised apple, loses out on the last brownie, and leaves the line.  She glances around for the other two, spots them, and heads over in their direction with a small wave.

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Holden leads them to a table full of older kids. "Hey everyone! These are Alexius and Connie, the freshmen I mentioned who might want to help Naomi with her homework. Alexius, Connie, this is Alex, Joe, Amos, and Naomi."

"Welcome!" says Alex, a big smile on his face. "I hope you don't go by Alex y'self? I've been tryin' so hard to avoid havin' to differentiate, I'm sure my moniker wouldn't be particularly flatterin'."

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"Hah. I sometimes do but I met another Alex at orientation and decided to stick with the long version. If you're feeling particularly generous you can also use 'Alexius the Great.' Pleasure to meet y'all." He nods to the assembled elders, doing his best to seem cheerful-and-unintimidated. 

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Joe, leaning back in his chair with his feet on the table and a hat on his face, waves a small acknowledgement. Naomi pushes some peas around her mostly-full plate. Amos smiles - keeps smiling - and bobs his head. It falls to Alex to carry on the conversation.

"Alexius the Great. Didn't realize New York was giving seats out to legendary heroes! Where're you from, Alexius?"

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"Jacksonville. My dad's Greek, though, hence the appellation. Not legendary yet but working on it!" 

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" 'M Connie, like he said."  She gives a small wave and looks for a place to set her tray.  "I'm from Cambridge- Massachusetts, not England."  The faint Boston accent presumably makes that clear, but she's aiming to imply 'from Boston but not with Boston' where necessary without having to say it to everyone she meets.

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Alex scoots over a bit to make space.

"The great state of Texas, m'self" in case the drawl hadn't made it obvious, "You're some kind of math genius? Our Naomi's not exactly a slacker, she hasn't been given easy classes for a freshman."

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"Charter school, we got to race ahead if we could handle it."  Probably leaving 'and I can handle it' unspoken is a decent balance between confident and bragging?  "Did calc on my own so I could trade homework with people, I'm in Number Theory and Mathematical Models for Artificing now."

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"Good for you! Does that mean you're doin' artificing track?"

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"Yep- forces affinity, be a waste not to."

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"And I've got an alchemically perfect memory, so I'm decent at the non-math stuff. Hit me up if you want to breeze through history with the good spells picked out." He's totally going to try to get more mana from the upperclassmen than he would for the same work from a freshman. They've got way more of it, comparatively. 

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"Nice. Was that your parents doin' something permanent before you came in, or have you got more where that came from to sell?"

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"...my own invention, actually, but it only works on me. Casualty of my self-centered affinity, I suppose; my going theory is that it has to be tailored to the individual person and I just automatically make it right for me. I should have some more alchemical wonders to sell after extensive testing later in the year, though." 

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"Huh, that's a neat talent."

"We all ate already, so we're just waiting on you two before we head up to the library."

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"Mm, right."  She should've realized that, really, juniors go through the line a half hour before freshmen, but it's still awkward to be the only couple of people eating.  She shoves the apple in her pocket and tries to get through her hash quickly but neatly.

 

"Speaking of- do you guys have, like, a spot, or...?" 

 

Having a bunch of other juniors willing to sit with random freshmen at lunch tips her guess back towards 'weirdly friendly or maybe desperate', but two freshmen are absolutely not going to get away from five juniors if the whole batch of them have malice aforethought, especially in the stacks where her one real offensive spell is useless. 

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"I usually find a decent spot in the main room nobody's guarding, these kids just follow me around like lost puppies."

This from Joe, who has not said a word or shown his face otherwise.

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Well, that seems safe enough. Alexius digs in, content to listen for now. 

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That's probably fine?  Main risk is maybe that it's empty because everyone knows it's an enclave spot, but in that case the juniors who definitely know better would likely get the worst of the yelling-at, and being a little naive in the first week is probably not the kind of thing that gets you a reputation. She finishes the rest of her hash without trying to split the time with talking. 

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And as they wrap up eating and bus their trays the older kids stand up and start heading for the stairs up.

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Time to follow and see if it's a trap!

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